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Being a Woman and a Leader: It’s Challenging but Achievable

Being a Woman and a Leader: It’s Challenging but Achievable

Ladies, this isn’t news to us. As a woman in the work force you need to work twice as hard, be twice as successful, twice as creative, and be twice as productive as the men in your field just to even be recognized as a valuable asset to your company. The stakes are even higher as a woman in a leadership position.

Women have gained their place in the work force, even if men are still trying to shake us out.

Women still struggle with the stigma of their place being “at home.” But in less than a century, we have made great strides in staking our place with the big boys.

Females didn’t start entering the work force until after the civil war.[1] Women of color had to support themselves in their newly gained freedom, and female immigrants began to follow suit. Housewives started seeking work as well to help out with the costs of a post-war household. The pay was awful, significantly less than what their male counterparts earned. And the working conditions were dangerous and grueling.

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During World War II, women took on a stronger role in the work force, taking up vacant jobs left behind by their deployed husbands and male associates. But as soon as the war was over, the men wanted their jobs back. This was a confusing time for women because now they didn’t know their place. Some retreated back to the housewife regime, while many refused to give up the positions they’ve earned.

From then it’s been nothing short of an uphill battle for women. And although we have more than proved ourselves, we are constantly undermined and disrespected by men and women alike while in positions of power.

If tactfully approached, women can still be successful leaders.

The fight is long from over, but we strong, independent, intimidating women can practice a few methods in order to alleviate the fragile egos of our male coworkers and in this case, employees. We need to back off of the power play and emphasis of what’s fair, and focus on a common goal. In order to be a good leader, you need to gain the respect of your team and make them want to follow you.

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Strong women in the work force are unsettling and threatening to many men, and even some women who harbor the outdated ideology that men are stronger and smarter. We have to be very tactful when giving direction so that we don’t come off as too “aggressive.”

Here are some nice hand-holding methods to ensure that men don’t feel belittled or undermined when a woman leader is telling them what to do.

Build a strong community of women leaders and workers, and advocate for each other.

There is strength in numbers. Typically women who advocate for themselves are viewed as attention seeking, and overzealous. It’s not “normal” for women to behave this way, and therefore receives a lot of negativity. Ladies, let’s be real. We cut each other down for this and it needs to stop. Instead, we need to build each other up. Glorify each other for our accomplishments.[2] Recommend one another. And when you feel daring enough to advocate for yourself, leave yourself open to resources so that you don’t appear closed-minded or “threatening.”

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Rise to power when the resources and timing is right.

There’s a reason why women rarely hold executive positions in small companies.[3] But in larger corporations, there are more positions and opportunities for females to rise to the top. In addition to this, timing is everything. If your company is looking to make changes and move in a new direction, it’s time to pounce. There is a small window of opportunity here to have your ideas heard and accepted.

Level with your employees- ask, don’t tell.

No one likes being told what to do. And men definitely don’t like being bossed around by a woman unless there’s dinner and a massage in it for them later. So instead of being direct and bossy, try and level with them.[4] Instead of saying, “have this in by Thursday,” try saying, “Can you have this in by Thursday?” They’ll be thinking to themselves, “well of course I can.” But you gave them the option and took the pressure off a bit.

Be slightly indirect when voicing an opinion.

I can’t stress this enough, we’re walking around on egg shells here. If you see a glaring issue, it can only be addressed if you do it nicely. Instead of saying, “this is horrible and must be remedied at once,” try something a bit more lax like, “I think we have an opportunity to make this better. We’re almost there!” Positivity and indirect candy-coated criticism will get you far.

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Overuse punctuation and smiley faces to seem more approachable.

When administering or replying to a memo, overuse exclamation points and smiley faces to ensure that your readers know that you are an approachable and friendly person. The simple use of commas and periods are too blunt and can be threatening to unsuspecting employees.

When someone regurgitates what you said or told them, just take it with a grain of salt.

Let them run with your idea, it has to get out there somehow. Instead of correcting them, informing them that you had already said that exact same thing, expand on it more to add to the conversation. Now people are listening, now you will be heard.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More About Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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